My Favorite Knitting Tools
Reasons in Favor of Circular Needles
Lots of knitters prefer the straight needles, but my all-time favorite is the circular needles. You never have to search for where the other needle has gotten lots to. You husband is less likely to pick one up to probe or use as a pseudo screwdriver (why do men do that?). Knitting in the car on long drives is much more pleasant as you are very unlikely to drop one needle between your seat and the door and have to make the driver pull over so you can open your door and search for it (they never seem to appreciate that).
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Bamboo vs. Aluminum
Also, I adore bamboo for several reasons. I have used aluminum, plastic, and wooden needles for various projects and I have to recommend bamboo. First, it isn't as slippery as aluminum and plastic. You would think that isn't a good thing, but imagine trying to juggle a hundred stitches on a slippery pipe and you will agree a surface that has a little bit of texture would be welcome. Second, bamboo has a warm look and feel. This shouldn't matter either except that knitting is all about the tactile. You want to finger the yarn, feel it moving through your fingers and if the tools are cold and the yarn is rough, you won't want to come back to finish the project. Third, bamboo is less noisy. I know. Why does that matter? Well, when your husband sits next to you while you clickity-clack and turns to stare, finally making the comment, "Do you have to make so much noise," you will want to switch to a softer needle to keep him in the room. Not saying that this has happened to me because my husband is a wonderful man who puts up with a lot of clickity-clack. So when he turns to stare, I know it's time to switch to the bamboo.
I have a set of needles that have interchangeable points and I use them from time to time, but I still prefer the bamboo. This set gives you every size you may need for any project from baby things and socks to Afghans. Even the socks and baby things can be done with these long needle lengths using the Magic Loop method. There are informative YouTube videos if you have never heard of it. Very affordable, you have to get these needles.
Whenever you are making a knitted baby blanket, an afghan, or even a scarf, knit the first 5 rows and last 5 rows in garter stitch, and leave 5 stitches on each end for garter stitch boarder. This will keep the piece from curling . (Hint: garter stitch is when you knit every row.)
Baby Sweater Set
An Old Sock
People are always asking me which is easier; knit or crochet. It’s not that simple. I like them both. Knit has only two stitches to learn but you have two needles to manipulate so you are using both hands. Crochet has only one hook to manipulate but you have to learn 7 different stitches. However, I love the soft smooth way that knit feels against your skin when you are done, as opposed to the rough, stiff feel of crochet. Although, I find crochet perfect for lace and jackets that you want to have a slightly stiff feel. I love to wear knit. It hangs and fits nicely and is soft and warm.
The creation of knitted garments, it is believed, goes back to the Stone Age. Bone or wood could be easily made into needles. The yarn was abundant with the twisting of animal hair, especially sheep. Unfortunately, fiber arts do not pass the test of time well and there are no knitted garments found to support the theory that they date back that far. The earliest evidence found is a knitted sock found in an Egyptian tomb dating around 1500 BC. That’s an old sock!
Always photocopy your pattern and carry the copy with you when you leave the house. That way you won’t have to fear loosing your valuable book or magazine. You can also make notes on the copy and save the pattern.
Really good knitting books
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of books out there on knitting, beginning through advanced. However, there are a few that stand above the rest. For patterns, I recommend Knit and Purl and its mate Eyelet and Lace edited by Erika Knight. These two books have a comprehensive listing of most patterns you may want to use in knitting and easy to understand instructions, with beautiful color pictures. These patterns are not garments, they are only the different textures and lacey techniques that can be done with knitting. With these patterns, you can make baby blankets, scarves, and sweaters or vests using the pattern texture you like best.
Numbering System for Needles
The numbers start at 1 (the smallest) and go up as large as 50. However, anything over 18 feels like trying to knit with a horse’s leg in each hand. These are American standard measurements, of course. You will find that the needles are also labeled with metric measurements, which tends to make buying the needles a little confusing. When buying your needles, you will find the label with numbers followed by “mm” for metric and “The US” for the American measurement. Also, the needles are measured and labeled by their length. Straight needles can be as short as 6” or 8” and as long as 17” or 18”. In the same way circular needles are labeled with their length from point to point; usually 9” up to 36” or more, which is for very large items like blankets or afghans.
Circular needles are handy to have even if you do not plan to knit in the round. They are meant for knitting circular garments such as sweaters, socks, sleeves, and even scarves. However, they are very nice to use for larger projects such as blankets and afghans, which are too large for regular straight needles.
I highly recommend circular needles. If you have never used them before, they take a little getting used to, but the effort is well worth it. Circular needles offer many benefits. One plus is that you never have to look for your other needle. It is always right there. No chance of dropping it or losing it. The second benefit is that they are less cumbersome than traditional straight needles. The ends don’t stick out and bump people sitting next to you. They keep your work comfortably in your lap. Lastly, you can work on large projects as well as small, where with straight needles, you must get a longer length for the larger projects. Circular needles will accommodate a wide range of sized projects before you are forced to get a longer size.
Crazy KnittersClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Highway Patrolman was driving along the freeway when he noticed a car swerving slightly. Pulling up to the car he could see the driver was knitting while driving. He rolled down his window and yelled to the driver, “Pullover!”
“No,” the driver responded, “It’s a cardigan. See?” And she held it up for him to see.
Look for interesting old knitting magazines and books at the thrift stores and yard sales. Most knitting patterns don’t go out of style and some of the older ones were easier to understand than the more modern versions. Plus it is usually a bargain price.
Good Knitting Book
Another good book is The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting: Learn to Knit with more than 30 Cool Easy Patterns, by Nancy Queen. It has many easy to follow garments and patterns. These are fun and crafty patterns you can use for many years.